Crime and Punishment Criminal Justice Death Penalty District Attorney Guns Prosecutors

Q & A With Jackie Lacey….Gun Talk…Prosecutorial Abuse, Part 2….& MD Gov. Pushes for Death Penalty Repeal,


Patt’s interview offers some brief but interesting glimpses into Jackie the D.A. and Jackie the person.

Regarding Jackie the person, there’s an affecting moment where Lacey talks about how her father died in 2008, and when she visits his grave, she keeps thinking how much she wishes he’d seen her take office.

In terms of Jackie the D.A., it is encouraging to hear that her views on realignment sound reasonably balanced. (How that translates into action is something we’ll be keeping an eye on in the future.)

Here are both those clips:

PATT M: Is your dad here to see what you’ve achieved?

JACKIE L. He died in 2008. When I’m at the grave site, the question that pops into my head is, God, couldn’t he have been here for this? While it’s important for my mother, this particular accomplishment would have been extraordinary for my father. He loved following politics. He had pictures in our dining room of Tom Bradley and Julian Bond and Kenny Hahn, Martin Luther King of course, Robert F. Kennedy, John Kennedy. So for him not to be here — I don’t want to say I’m angry; I just don’t understand it. But I feel my father’s presence.


PATT M: How is state prison realignment — pushing state prisoners to the local level — going?

JACKIE L: It happened so fast and local law enforcement just wasn’t ready for this shift. We have a limited amount of space and money to incarcerate people. We’ve run out of room at the state prisons. We have run out of room at the county jail. My office’s role is to figure out alternatives for some people, such as mental health programs or drug facilities. Let’s peel the lower-risk people off and save room for people who are very dangerous.

Right now, we have policies that mandate 10 days in jail, 15 days, 30 days. They’re not going to be in that amount of time. And for some of these people, some of these alternatives are cheaper to do, and the recidivism rate is something like 10% to 30%. We’ve got to not be fearful about having these discussions.


An interesting interview in the Los Angeles Review of Books with Paul M. Barrett, author of Glock: The Rise of America’s gun, who, by the way, isn’t particularly enthusiastic about assault weapons bans, simply because he doesn’t think they’ll do all that much good. Here’s what he says about his preferred approach:

PB: We already have a system in place right now for which there is broad support, restricting not particular kinds of guns, but who’s allowed to buy and possess them. That should be our focus when it comes to new legislation: not on guns, but on keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and mentally unstable people. We already have laws on the books that do that, but they are not as effective as they could be, because they too have loopholes. I would be in favor of closing those loopholes.

Specifically, I’m in favor of there being a requirement for a federal background check on all sales of all firearms at all times, not just the sales by federally licensed firearms dealers. That would capture many, many thousands and thousands of transactions that today happen basically off the books.

SR: Is this the so-called “gun show loophole”?

PB: Just as some people are obsessed with — to their own detriment — assault weapons, people are obsessed with gun shows. Gun shows are not the problem. It’s not gun shows, it’s private sales of firearms. Forget about gun shows.

At gun shows you have both federally licensed dealers who do background checks, and you have so-called private collectors who don’t do the background checks. The problem is not the federally licensed firearm dealers, who are actually at most gun shows selling the majority of guns, it’s those other guys.

And even more to the point, it’s the guys who don’t even go to gun shows, because those guys publically set up their product, essentially saying, “Here I am selling guns out in public, where the police can see me, and the ATF can see me,” and so forth. It’s the guys who do that from their kitchen table or the trunk of their car who are selling, all too often, to criminals or to other people who shouldn’t be getting guns.

I would make all sales that are sneaky, where no one knows who is actually buying the gun, illegal. That would keep guns out of the hands of some number of people who right now are very purposefully avoiding the background checks. Those are people we should be very suspicious about.

Read the rest of this intriguing interview (conducted by critic and essayist, Shaun Randol) here.

(Go, LARB!)


While Aaron Swartz was an extraordinary young man, the story of relentless prosecutorial zeal aimed at Swartz for more than two years before he killed himself is depressingly ordinary.

And usually it is directed people who do not have the support and resources that Swartz had.

I am particularly aware of this as I prepare, this Wednesday morning, to attend the latest hearing in Federal Court pertaining to the case of Alex Sanchez, a RICO case in which the Feds reportedly lied to the grand jury, misidentified witnesses, all to bolster a murder conspiracy charge, which appears to have had nothing in the way of real evidence to justify it.

Writing for the Atlantic, Wendy Kaminer (who is one of many writing on the topic) points out the depressing ordinariness that Swartz’s case represents. Here’s a clip:

Federal prosecutors wanted to make an example of Aaron Swartz and they succeeded. Their wildly disproportionate treatment of his victimless trespasses exemplified the Justice Department’s disregard for fairness, decency, and the fundamental rights of the citizens it’s supposed to serve. Swartz’s prosecution was notable not because of its cruel over-zealousness, which is horribly routine, but because it involved a gifted, idealistic, emotionally vulnerable defendant, with a sophisticated and relatively powerful constituency that has the means to make itself heard.

He was not the first person to hang himself in the wake of abusive, even sadistic federal prosecution, and he may not be the last. (You can read about the case of the “posthumously vindicated” Dr. Peter Gleason here.) But Swartz’s suicide may be the first to generate widespread sorrow and outrage over common prosecutorial tactics that put ordinary as well as extraordinary citizens at risk.


Andy Brownfield of the Washington Examiner has the story. Here’s a clip:

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is giving a repeal of his state’s death penalty another shot, announcing on Tuesday that he will file a bill to do away with the ultimate punishment.

“The death penalty is expensive and it does not work,” O’Malley said during a news conference. “And for that reason alone, I believe we should stop doing it.”

The governor said the state should instead focus on measures that have proven to reduce crime rates, such as deploying police forces strategically, collection and use of DNA evidence, and using modern policing technology.

He also tied the abolition of capital punishment to a moral imperative, pointing out that the U.S. was among the seven countries that oversaw the most state executions: Iran, China, Iraq, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the United States.

“In whose company do we choose to walk forward?” he asked. “Will we be a society guided by the notion that two wrongs somehow make a right? Or will we be a society that’s guided by the fundamental civil and human rights that we understand are bestowed on humankind by God?”

O’Malley was flanked by members of the legislative black caucus, county executives and NAACP officials.

The NAACP has made it a priority to scrap capital punishment in Maryland this year, with the ultimate goal of abolishing it nationwide.


  • I had just seen the crawl on cable news shows announcing Schwartz’ suicide, so I didn’t really know anything until reading about him on WLA. Thanks, Celeste.

  • So the last corrupt Da endorses the new one. Do we expect anything different? Hopefully the FBI goes after the last Da when they are done with LASD.

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